Now open: Hinsdale's new parking deck

$9 million project adds 189 spaces on weekdays, 319 spaces on evenings and weekends

After decades of debates about parking solutions, years of negotiation between the village and District 181, months of construction - and a global pandemic thrown in for good measure - Hinsdale finally has a parking deck. The new facility on Garfield Avenue just south of First Street opened today, July 16.

"We are very pleased with the outcome and very happy that we could provide this much-needed amenity to the village," village manager Kathleen Gargano said.

Village President Tom Cauley said the deck solves a problem that has existed since he moved to town 30 years ago, and its location is ideal.

"It is a short walk from shops and restaurants, and because of the slope of Garfield, the deck is unobtrusive and blends in with its surroundings," he stated in a press release.

The project is a joint effort between the village, which has control of the 189 spaces on the lower level, and Community Consolidated District 181, which will have primary use of the 133 spaces on the upper level. Through the intergovernmental agreement, the village will have use of the upper level spaces after 5 p.m. and on weekends, so long as school events are not planned, and when school is not in session.

Although Hinsdale trustees talked this spring about how to use the deck to help manage parking in the downtown business district, people now can park in the deck for free with no time limits. Officials will begin evaluating parking strategies again this fall, Gargano said.

"We would urge the merchants and employees that are taking the prime metered parking to move to the parking deck and leave those spaces for shoppers," said Brad Bloom, assistant village manager. "That was the driving reason why the village board decided to build the parking deck."

Metered spaces, which officials would like to see reserved for shoppers, will continue to cost 25 cents an hour. The village's two pay lots - the Garfield lot north of Fuller's Home and Hardware ($1 per hour) and the north Washington Street lot (25 cents per hour) - are available with a six-hour limit.

After several delays in the anticipated completion date (see sidebar), the deck opened at a time when the pandemic has created an artificially low demand for parking.

"There is definitely a need that we will have when a total recovery from the pandemic has occurred," Gargano said.

Bloom agreed.

"The demand for the deck and the need for the parking has been there for 50 or 100 years going back," he said. "Demand is not going to change moving forward. This is just a blip in the radar."

The village has ceded several metered parking spaces along First Street and Washington Street to the outdoor dining areas created for local restaurants. The village will allow restaurants to use those areas through Dec. 31.

"We do live in Chicago and we could have a 60-degree day in December," Gargano noted.

Cauley praised Trustee Neale Byrnes, who was the village board's liaison on the project, and Gargano thanked the village board and staff for their efforts.

"I believe it touched almost every one of our operating departments," she said. "It was truly a team effort to bring this to the community."

The deck is one of the single largest public works projects in the village, Bloom said, and warrants enthusiasm.

"We're excited about this," he said. "I think it's a huge accomplishment to have two government entities come together and recognize the need and meet each other's needs."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean